Kip Lornell

Kip Lornell

Kip Lornell

Adjunct Professor of Music, History & Culture


Email: Kip Lornell


Kip Lornell moved to Washington, DC in November 1988 from the Blue Ridge Institute at Ferrum College for a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Smithsonian Folkways and began teaching courses in American music and ethnomusicology at GW in 1992. Since relocating to the DMV, much of his research has focused on local music, which has resulted in two editions of a book about go go music that he co-authored with Charles Stephenson, a monograph on Bluegrass in D.C. published by Oxford University Press, and a biography of local bluegrass legend Buzz Busby that he's co-authoring with Tom Minte. He is contemplating editing a book of mostly previously published works focused on vernacular music in the DMV.

Current Position and Current Research

  • Currently, Prof. Lornell's research is mostly focused on music in the DMV


  • Lornell and Charles Wolfe earned the ASCAP—Deems Taylor book award for The Life and Legend of Leadbelly (Harper Collins, 1993).
  • Lornell won a 1997 Grammy for his contribution to the album notes for Smithsonian Folkways’ “Anthology of American Folk Music.”
  • His sixteenth and seventeenth books were published in 2019 and 2020: The Blues Come to Texas Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick's Unfinished Book (compiled by Alan Govenar with documentation and essays by Alan Govenar and Kip Lornell) was published by Texas A & M Press in January. Oxford University Press released Capital Bluegrass: Hillbilly Music Meets Urban Culture as a solo authored book.
  • In addition to these books, he has published 102 articles or essays in scholarly and popular journals & magazines and has presented a similar number of talks and lectures and papers at scholarly meetings and universities across the United States.


Ph.D. University of Memphis, 1983; M.A. University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, 1976; B.S. State University of New York—Empire State, 1975.

Professional Organizations

  • Since the early 1980s, Kip Lornell has been an active member of the Society for American Music, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. In 2014, he founded the D.C. Vernacular Music Archives, which is housed at Gelman Library.